UK’s biggest solar farm gets green light

The Government has approved the development of the UK’s largest solar energy farm, Cleve Hill Solar Park in Kent, after overcoming opposition from local groups and national organisations Greenpeace, the RSPB and CPRE.

German company Wirsol Solar and UK Hive Energy have welcomed the decision by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Alok Sharma to grant consent.

The Cleve Hill Solar Park will generate up to 350MW of clean renewable electricity to power over 91,000 homes and lowering CO2 emissions by 68,000 tonnes a year. The project will be built without any Government subsidies and aims to be one of the lowest cost generators of electricity in the UK.

The venture has taken the decision to pioneer the use of an east west panel orientation in the UK for the Cleve Hill Solar Park, which should be able to generate 44 per cent more electricity generation than the same site with south-orientated panels. The partners are also planning significant investment in battery storage reducing the issues of meeting peaks in demand, and dampening wholesale price volatility.

Planning has been an issue because of the potential impact to wildlife in the area and concerns of how the development will affect the countryside. As such the proposals had split environmental charities, with Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth holding opposing views as to the desirability to progress.

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